What’s Next for STIR/SHAKEN at ITEXPO 2022

By Alan Percy, CMO @TelcoBridges

This last week, we participated in ITEXPO 2022, a giant step towards returning to normalcy.   The last ITEXPO event TelcoBridges participated in was in February 2020 and I can clearly remember the empty booths, reserved for exhibitors from the far-east.  Nobody had any idea what was coming or the impact it would make on our nation and industry.  Despite the challenges of the last two years, it does appear that attendance for events has sprung back, with excellent attendance on both the show floor and in the sessions.

So, on to the topic at hand:

Wednesday morning of the show, I participated in a panel discussion titled “STIR/SHAKEN Will Decrease Robocalls But There’s Much More To Be Done”.  I was joined by Jim Brewer, Peerless Network; Alec Fenichel, TransNexus; Jim Tyrell, Transaction Network Services; and moderated by Phil Edholm, PKE Consulting.

We started the session with a reminder of what STIR/SHAKEN can and cannot do.

What STIR/SHAKEN can do:

    • Provide proof where the call originated
    • Attaches a unique identifier to each call, improving traceback
    • Conveying the level of attestation (A, B or C) assigned by the originator of the call
    • Provide information to the terminating service provider on whether the calling party information is trustworthy and the attestation level

STIR/SHAKEN cannot:

    • Determine the intent of the caller (why are they trying to call?)
    • Block calls based on behavior or intent

Alec shared some STIR/SHAKEN statistics from data collected by TransNexus, showing a significant uptick in May of 2022.  The number of calls that were signed and carried SHAKEN Passports rose to nearly 40% of all traffic.   Still, over 70% of calls were not signed, often the result of TDM transport or origination.

Despite these improving numbers, illegal robocalls continue to plague subscribers.  The panel explored the source of illegal call and those with STIR/SHAKEN attestation.  How does happen?  Data leads us to a few scenarios:

    1. Those wishing to send illegal robocalls have found that using TDM operators (currently exempt from implementing STIR/SHAKEN) is a means to get their traffic to their targets. This traffic typically does not carry an attestation.  The FCC has mandated that TDM operators must support STIR/SHAKEN this June, but many are nowhere near ready.
    2. Weak Know-your-customer checks by some service providers allows illegal traffic to get into the network. A case study from the Cloud Communications Alliance found that bad actors will use stolen identities to gain access.
    3. There are a small number of “Sign for hire” operators that will sign any traffic that crosses their network, irrespective of the origin.
    4. That spreading their traffic across many number/operators (AKA snowshowing), the bad actors avoid detection.

In summary, it is incumbent on operators that either originate traffic or act as a gateway into the North American PSTN to play an active role in supervising the traffic from their networks.   Now that STIR/SHAKEN is mandated, better attention to the vetting process, robocall mitigation, and call traceback are the cure for an endless game of “whack-a-mole” and stamping out the spammers.

Want to learn more?   There is a host of information on STIR/SHAKEN solutions from TelcoBridges and our partners here

The Last Man Standing

by Alan Percy, CMO @TelcoBridges

There was a time when all photographers used film-based cameras, and after exposure, taking their rolls of film to a local pharmacy or photo lab to be developed into slides or prints.   With the invention of digital photography, the need for processing labs and equipment quickly faded, making it difficult to purchase film and get it processed.   More recently, the artistic value of “analog” photography has been rediscovered and with it, a few boutique labs have made processing film a high-value business opportunity.   They are “the last labs standing” for the growing community of film photography aficionados.

We see a similar trend in the TDM telecommunications equipment market.  While much of the new product development investment is on IP-based network equipment, there remains a significant amount of TDM equipment in operation.  Media and signaling gateways play an important role in bridging between the old TDM equipment and new IP networks.  The trends we see show increasing demand for these bridge technologies, helping service providers get the most out of their TDM equipment while migrating to new SIP-based networks.  However, the number of vendors that make these technologies continues to shrink.  Whether by acquisition, change of priorities, or lack of skills, the number of vendors that invest in media and signaling gateways continues to shrink.

Despite this, the demand remains strong.  One example is the migrations from SS7 to SIGTRAN.  SS7 is a widely used TDM signaling protocol that has been the backbone of the telecommunications network since the 1970’s. As a TDM protocol, SS7 typically is delivered over expensive DS1 leased lines, while  SIGTRAN offers a means to carry SS7 signaling over low-cost IP networks.   The ROI for a service provider to migrate from SS7 to SIGTRAN is very clear – usually only a few months payback.

However, the number of vendors that make SS7 to SIGTRAN signaling gateways is now very small.  TelcoBridges is one of the few vendors that continues to invest in gateways that support both SS7 and SIGTRAN.  With a broad array of product offerings and a long-term commitment to support our products, TelcoBridges is committed to help service providers get the most out of their existing networks.

As to SS7 to SIGTRAN signaling gateways, TelcoBridges is one of a few “last vendors standing”

Learn more about TelcoBridges signaling gateways at:  https://telcobridges.com/products/signaling-gateways-tsig/

Award Consulting – our newest Alliance Partner

“You are who you are by virtue of the company you keep”, T.B. Joshua

The complexities of real-world telecommunication networks and the array of vendors makes them impossible to fully understand all the intricacies.   Fortunately, TelcoBridges has an array of well-versed alliance partners that do have the specialization to solve complex network challenges. Continue reading Award Consulting – our newest Alliance Partner

After 8 Years – Price Increases are Coming

by Alan Percy, CMO @TelcoBridges

Tmedia Price TagOne unique attribute of TelcoBridges is that the company has been able to keep the price of Tmedia products stable for over 8 years.   Much of this is the result of long-term agreements with suppliers, operational efficiency, and close management of margins.

Continue reading After 8 Years – Price Increases are Coming

Cloud Communications Infrastructure – the Right Business Model

by Alan Percy, CMO @TelcoBridges

The traditional model used to sell telecommunications infrastructure required a significant up-front capital expenditure (CAPEX) with life-long software and hardware maintenance expenses.  This is a real challenge for the emerging cloud communications service providers, many of which are starting from scratch.

Continue reading Cloud Communications Infrastructure – the Right Business Model

Marking a FreeSBC milestone and Introducing ProSBC

By Alan Percy, Product Marketing

This week, TelcoBridges’ staff and friends celebrated a big milestone for the company and some big news about a new offering that is on the way.

The milestone we celebrated was delivering our 10,000,000th session download of FreeSBC.  What started in October of 2017 to enter the crowded SBC software market and fill a market gap with a pay-as-you-grow business model, FreeSBC was intentionally positioned as a disruptive offering.    Continue reading Marking a FreeSBC milestone and Introducing ProSBC

Battling Robocallers – Round 3

by Alan Percy, Senior Director of Product Marketing

This last month, a telemarketing firm hawking health insurance was fined $82 million for their role in 21 million illegal unsolicited robocalls.  Are the legal consequences enough to put an end to the nuisance calls?

As reported by the Washington Post, the Federal Communications Commission imposed an $82 million fine against a telemarketer who made more than 21 million unsolicited calls to consumers to try to sell health insurance and generate leads.

Despite this stiff penalty against one firm, the phones of Americans continue to ring with offers of bogus credit card protection offers, free vacations and fake IRS scams.

A root of the problem is the ease at which bulk phone calls can be made with spoofed caller-ID information, tricking unsuspecting victims to answer call they think are from friends or neighbors.  While there are legitimate reasons to substitute caller-ID information (Doctors office reminders, school notifications, etc) fraudulent abuse continues to be an industry-wide problem.

Meanwhile, progress is being made in the standards bodies with further refinement of the STIR/SHAKEN framework that will allow service providers to “certify” that the originating caller and communications service provider owns the rights to the calling number.

In August, the ATIS and SIP Forum announced the release of two key specifications needed to standardize the user experience and APIs needed for implementation of SHAKEN.  The first specification Technical Report on a Framework for Display of Verified Caller ID (ATIS-1000081) defines a standard user experience for calls from known callers, likely SPAM callers, suspect and potential fraudulent callers with color icons and information on screen-based devices.  The second specification Technical Report on SHAKEN API for a Centralized Signing and Signature Validation Server provides a proposed RESTful API for the implementation of the SHAKEN specification

This next couple weeks will see two industry speaking sessions addressing the issues, including:

Battling Robocallers – a Tutorial on STIR/SHAKEN presented by yours truly at Astricon in Orlando on Tuesday, October 9th at 10:00 AM

Comprehensive Approach to Illegal Robocalls presented by Eric Burger, CTO at the Federal Communications Commission at the Illinois Institute of Technology Real-Time Communications Conference on Tuesday October 16th at 9:00 AM

Later in December, the SIPNOC event has a dedicated Robocall Summit track specifically addressing the problem, including a number of industry thought leaders.

However, questions do remain on the timeframe and motivation of the service provider community as to when they plan to implement any or all of the recommendations, giving consumers a break from the fraudulent robocallers.

 

FreeSBC takes to the Cloud on AWS

by Alan D. Percy, Senior Director of Product Marketing

As a greater range of communications applications are migrating to the cloud, there is a greater need for affordable cloud-hosted session border controller network services.   To answer this need, TelcoBridges recently announced that the company’s FreeSBC session border controller software is now available on Amazon Web Services.   Offering feature-rich services comparable to native bare-metal installations and virtualized platforms, the AWS Amazon Machine Image (AMI), provides core network security, interoperability and media services for service providers and enterprises.

Across the industry, cloud-based communications is on a steady growth trend.  As application architects piece together their solutions using cloud-bases services, it makes sense to have an affordable SBC to provide security, interoperability and media services.

Greg Collins at Exact Ventures forecasts that by 2022 nearly 75% of all session border controller shipments will be cloud-based

Luc Morissette, Director of Customer Support at TelcoBridges will be joining me for a live webinar on Tuesday, September 25th to deliver an overview of the new FreeSBC on AWS offer, covering the capabilities, limitations and demonstrating the activation process.

During the webinar we explain the three distinct offerings, including:

  1. FreeSBC on AWS as a fully hosted offering – making testing and evaluation much easier for prospective customers, allowing evaluation without dedicating a VM or hardware servers.
  2. FreeSBC PRO-edition – offered as an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) with all the PRO-edition features and standard support for $1/session/year
  3. FreeSBC free-edition – offered as an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) without support

The session will wrap up by putting a spotlight on the many use cases, showing how hosted contact centers, hosted Unified Communications and traditional telephony services will benefit from cloud-based FreeSBC.

Register for the live event today at:  https://www2.telcobridges.com/FreeSBConAWS

For more information on FreeSBC, visit www.freesbc.com

CommCon 2018 – The Open-Source Community Comes Together

By Alan Percy, Senior Director of Product Marketing, TelcoBridges

Imagine as your taxi is pulling into the driveway of a conference center and as you get closer, it appears there are badge-wearing conference attendees chasing ducks around the front lawn. The first thought goes through your head is “am I at the right place?”  And the answer is, yes, you are…

A few years ago, I had the fortune to met Dan Jenkins, a young software developer by trade who is deeply engaged in the open-source developer community. Dan and I first met at some of the hack-a-thon events where he was helping contestants build voice and video applications with the APIs he had built for WebRTC. During our first meeting, Dan was like many of the people that participate in hack-a-thons: pretty quiet and very knowledgeable about their craft.

Image my surprise when last year Dan kicked off CommCon, a new conference focused on the open-source developer community. Billed as “a conference done right”, my first thought was “was that the same Dan?” Yes, it is the same Dan!

Back to the ducks. Like many conferences, breaking the ice between attendees and doing some team building is an important part of a successful event. Being held in the English countryside, what better activity to break the ice than lessons on duck herding with a team of border collies. Under the guidance of “Bob the duck whisperer”, a group of the attendees soon learned how to use calls to get the dogs to go left, right, stop and start. In teams of three, we all had an opportunity to work together with the dogs to guide the ducks through a series of posts and back to their pen. Other team-building events gave teams an opportunity to try archery, Segway navigation, falconry and try a bounce in a Zorb.

Like Bob, Dan herded his 50+ attendees through an incredible week of technical learning, workshops, networking and team-building events in a stellar setting. During his opening keynote, Dan challenged the attendees: “Don’t be a Knob” – meaning you should treat others as you would like to be treated.  (A simple rule  –I may get it made into a bumper sticker) With this tight-knit group all under one roof, and many of whom complete with similar solutions, there are plenty of opportunities for friction. I had plenty of opportunities to meet and talk with nearly everyone else – building some great new relationships and share what TelcoBridges had to offer the open-source community.

The week wasn’t all fun and games, there was plenty of time to learn from the other attendees during the technical presentations (which can be viewed here). Three days of jam-packed presentations on two tracks, one focused on VoIP while the other focused on WebRTC. The VoIP track featured presentations on Asterisk, FreeSWITCH, Kamailio, OpenSIPS, Kubernetes and more.

The key take-away from the event is a fresh appreciation for the inter-twined and inter-connected nature of the various network elements needed to build a service provider solution. Call switching from here, media services from there, network diagnostics from somewhere else. All supported on a volunteer basis. It left me wondering – is this the right way to manage a revenue-producing network? Frankly, some simplification and tight technology alignments would help significantly.

Daniel-Constantin Shares Kamailio

I came away from the event better educated, with a host of new contacts and a new appreciation for the open-source community.

Tip of the week: “Come bye” makes the dog go clockwise and “Away” makes the dog go counter-clockwise.  Just don’t forget to stop the dog in-between commands with a “Lie down”.